School is primary cause of pressure on Dutch teenagers, Unicef report says


School is the primary cause of growing pressure on teenagers in the Netherlands today, according to research by Unicef and the Trimbos institute involving 10 to 18-year-olds.

The research, the biggest of its kind ever undertaken in the Netherlands, was commissioned by Unicef following mounting concern about the pressure young people are facing.

The research showed that 75% of Dutch youngsters are generally happy, feel well-supported by friends and family and are able to enjoy their leisure time.

But those that do feel stress, say it is primarily down to school and homework, although relationships with their peers are also an issue on occasion.

One in four of the teenagers questioned for the report said school is the prime cause of stress in their lives, and 33% said they felt pressure to meet the expectations of others.

Just 2% of the teenagers polled blamed social media. ‘Adults tend to think youngsters get stressed by social media but our research shows the opposite,’ said Suzanne Laszlo, director of Unicef Nederland.

Girls are more likely than boys to be negative about life, to have emotional problems and feel pressure with regards to school work. However, boys from broken homes, or with an ethnic minority background, experience less social support, which would help them to deal with stress and emotional problems, the researchers found.

‘The mental well-being of youngsters is even more relevant given coronavirus,’ Laszlo said. ‘Youngsters are experiencing more mental problems because of the crisis, so we need to be extra alert about how they are coping. Schools can play a major part in this.’

In particular, more free time, physical exercise and support from family members, friends and other adults can help reduce teenagers stress levels, Unicef said.

The survey was carried out between 2018 and May 2020.

Research by the OECD published last December showed Dutch teenagers remain among the happiest in the world with 79% of youngsters saying they are satisfied with their lives.

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